It is bad enough they aren’t writing musicals the way they once did. And that we no longer have a Frank Loesser. Or a Rogers and Hart. Or a Rogers and Hammerstein. Or an Adler and Ross. Or a Lerner and Lowe.
Colony Records, the great Manhattan music store on the Great White Way, recently bit the dust. The news of its closing six weeks ago (NY Times, August 24, 2012) with a photo of Ernie Doole, a longtime Colony employee, in the basement, dismantling shelves, hit the wrong notes. And hit hard.
In the mid-1950s, my family began taking car trips from Buffalo to Manhattan once or twice a year to catch the latest shows. Afterwards we would head over to Colony Records. My father bought me the song books of The Most Happy Fella, Carousel, The King and I, Guys and Dolls and whatever else we saw for years. Piano books from Colony Records were the souvenirs I brought home.
As a New York resident and theatergoer since 1967, I have been a regular there, stopping in when I’d go to the box office for tickets and before and after the shows.
I am not a browser or shopper except at stores that sell music and books. At Colony, I’ve often browsed for over an hour, talking to the owners and salespeople who could tell me everything about a composer, group, and solo artist I could possibly want to know. Individual pieces and books of Rogers and Hammerstein, Debussy, The Beatles, Chopin, Sinatra and tons of others from Colony are piled high on and next to my piano. As a music teacher in a public school in the early 1970s, I got my piano books there including “Great Songs of the Sixties” from which I taught my favorites to grades I through 6. Since then, I have been playing those and most of the others in that book and in all my songbooks at home.
In recent years, Broadway musicals lost their allure. With few exceptions, they have been missing heart and soul. And catchy tunes. Only on rare occasions have I walked out singing or humming. Only on rare occasions, do the melodies and lyrics play over and over in my mind.
At least there was ALWAYS Colony Records. A visit there and a songbook purchase compensated for super expensive, uninspiring shows. Now that show has closed.
I went up there to say good-bye to the guys two days before the closing. Some are now out of work. I can’t imagine an evening on Broadway without stopping there and treating myself to a little night piano music and filling up with what only this sixty-four year old establishment and one-of-a kind-store provided
So musicals have lost their magic. Their oomph. Their freshness. Their spark. Now we’ve lost Colony Records, too. catch a drama or comedy now and then, but without Colony Records, I don’t plan on heading that way soon.
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